Independent labels trade body Impala today "expressed outrage" at reports that European Union Competition Commissioner Mario Monti is to recommend giving the green light to the proposed merger of Sony

Independent labels trade body Impala today "expressed outrage" at reports that European Union Competition Commissioner Mario Monti is to recommend giving the green light to the proposed merger of Sony Music and BMG.

As previously reported, sources suggest that the anti-trust commissioner has concluded that there is not sufficient evidence of price collusion and market dominance among the music majors to justify blocking the merger. This came despite the EC's Statement of Objections (EC) to the merger, which last month accused the five companies of colluding in a tacit cartel.

Monti's spokeswoman insisted it was "premature" to suggest a decision had been taken, but refused to comment further.

Impala has long been a vociferous opponent of industry consolidation. In a statement issued today under the title "Independents Scandalized at the Commission's Potential Turnaround on Sony/BMG," the Brussels-based trade body questions how European regulators could wave through the merger despite having identified problems in the sector.

"We were positively shocked by the extent of the Commission's objections. We are outraged by this news. It defies all logic," says Horst Weidenmüller, Impala board member and CEO of Berlin-based dance-music label !K7.

Michel Lambot, Impala president and co-chairman of Brussels-based independent PIAS Group, warns that EU approval of the deal would leave regulators open to claims of overriding commercial interests. "Any turnaround would do nothing to counter the image that the EC's agenda is dictated by giant commercial interests rather than the interests of European citizens," says Lambot. "It is Mr. Monti's responsibility to correct this, and we will use all options open to us to ensure that this happens. This decision, if taken, will even reinforce the view of people seeing Brussels as a mere technocracy."

Earlier in the week, representatives of Impala were involved in closed-door hearings in Brussels on the proposed merger. Lambot led an Impala delegation that met EU competition commissioners last week.

The European Commission must make a final decision on the merger by July 22. Impala says it will continue to press its case. A spokesperson says the trade body is assessing all available options, including legal action. "We will make sure the Commission reconsiders before it takes its final decision," adds Martin Mills, Impala board member and chair of London-based Beggars Group.